10 things to offer top talent (aside from money)
Money matters, but it’s far from the only driver when it comes to people’s work and career choices.

For employers under financial pressure who are struggling to reward staff financially, understanding what motivates employees outside of money can help you attract and retain talent.

So, if you can’t offer candidates attractive salaries, or give staff pay rises, what else can you focus on?

Here are 10 key principles and incentives that can help employees feel motivated and engaged, without relying on a budget.

What matters to employees?

For most employees, there’s far more meaning to work than just the money, says Sabina Read, SEEK’s Resident Psychologist.

“Let's not underestimate these really deep human needs that are meaningful to all of us.”

Some of those key basic human needs are a sense of purpose, respect, autonomy, validation and belonging. Of course, we have individual values that shape those needs.

Check in with your employees to find out what really matters to them, Read says.

Employers can offer staff opportunities to grow and learn, and give them flexibility, a sense of purpose and belonging. And those things can matter far more to employees than a paycheque.

And we all want to know how our work ultimately impacts others in a positive, meaningful way, Read says.

10 things that motivate employees

Here are 10 things that make employees want to join a company and stick around for the long-term, according to research behind the AFR Boss Best Places to Work list.

  1. Purpose 
    Knowing that your work is helping other individuals and society in some way, beyond simple economic gain.­­
  2. Flexibility 
    Having choice over when, where and how you perform your work, meeting our basic need for autonomy.
  3. Wellbeing 
    Being able to look after your mental, physical and emotional health, and having sustainable working norms.
  4. Equality 
    Working in an environment where every individual and team is valued equally.
  5. Empowerment 
    Having the clarity and structure to work independently and be in charge of your own output.
  6. Learning 
    Having opportunities to constantly learn, grow and be challenged through experience.
  7. Democracy
    A team environment where everyone’s voice is valid, not just those staff at the top of the organisation.
  8. Choice 
    The freedom to determine what you work on, when and how you do it.
  9. Challenge 
    Having the opportunity to work on tasks that are challenging, and to learn and grow through those challenges.
  10. Belonging
    Feeling accepted and included by those around you, and part of a greater goal and purpose.

If you’re looking to attract talent now, it’s worth focusing on how you can highlight these things in your job ad. Can you identify the ways you can offer flexibility? Can you promote your business or organisation’s purpose in a way that people can connect with? Can you highlight that the role is one with opportunities for challenge, or that the working environment is one that values equality?

If your focus is on rewarding and retaining employees, check in with your team to see what resonates with them, then look for ways to incorporate or expand these things. Can you provide opportunities for learning, perhaps through stretch assignments? Can you foster a sense of belonging, for example, by recognising achievements or giving space for opinions?

While money is a key driver, there’s so much more that motivates us when it comes to work. And as an employer, focusing on these things can help you to create an environment that attracts great talent and encourages employees to stay long-term.

How does your organisation rate? If you think your company performs well on these factors, enter the AFR Boss Best Places to Work competition and get recognised for your efforts in pioneering new ways of working.

Read more:

How to adapt, optimise and make the most of your hiring team now
Why training matters now (and how to maximise your budget)
4 ways to make your hiring budget stretch further